Martha Bourlakas, a writer, mother of three, and wife of bishop Mark Bourlakas of Southwestern Virginia, offers a new perspective on Lent and what it means to be part of a church family. Instead of personal piety, Martha suggests Lent can be a time of vulnerability with God in community:
I was the one melting down. I felt stripped, like the Lenten altar, down to my bare bones. I was worried what people would think and frustrated by Hannah’s behavior. The rascally side of me – unsure, embarrassed, fearful and mad – was fully exposed. But when I saw Mary and Hannah holding hands, I realized this is the way it’s supposed to be. I do not need to try to shield my authentic self or my authentic child before God. The fullness of both of us – not just the half that’s cheerful, friendly, thoughtful – is on that bare altar before God.
What keeps me wrapped in the blanket of this Episcopal Church is that it does not walk away. No matter the extremes of my or anybody’s life, it stays and stands patiently with its gentle voice of prayer, mirroring the words of Jesus, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. This Church of mine wants me to be the most kind, thoughtful, peaceful person I can be, but it knows that is not the wholeness of me and it still doesn’t let go of my hands. It still doesn’t raise its voice and run away screaming.
I pray that this Lenten season is a time for you to melt down and expose your most core desires and fears. Know that God won’t run away in fear or embarrassment. Wave your snowy brown branches honestly before God so that on Easter Day, you celebrate your own explosion of green and pink and yellow and red.
Read the full post here.